Updated by Sarkis Hakopdjanian on Sep 30, 2022
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How to Create a Survey in 7 Steps

Are you wondering how to learn about your clients?

A client survey may be one of the best ways to learn about your clients and hear their anonymous feedback.

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Step 1: Set Goals

Before creating a new survey, step back and consider your business goals. Ask yourself:

• What is the purpose of this survey?
• What do you want to learn about your clients?
• What do you want to accomplish for your business?

Ideally, your survey will have one primary purpose, such as learning about your clients’ feedback to improve their experience, or learning about the services they need this year, or learning about where they spend time online and offline.

Having too many goals results in surveys that are too long, causes your participants to lose interest and not complete the survey, or causes them to provide incorrect information just to finish quickly.

The quality of your data is based on the quality of your questions. Having a clear goal in mind ensures that you stay focused and get meaningful results.

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Step 2: Determine Sample

For survey results to be valid and accurately represent your population of clients, it has to be statistically significant. In other words, the sample of clients that participate in the survey has to accurately represent your entire population of clients.

This means that the results from a small sample of people can be generalized or extrapolated to represent all of your clients.

You can calculate how many people you need to sample using this formula:

n = N / (1 + N * e2)

n = number of patients you need to sample

N = total population of patients

e = error tolerance (1 – confidence interval)

For example, if your practice has 1,000 total patients (population) and you want a confidence interval (accuracy) of 95%, then the error tolerance is 1 – 0.95 = 0.05. The formula is then:

n = 1,000 / (1 + 1,000 * 0.052)

n = 286

In other words, you need to sample 286 patients in order for the results to match your entire population of 1,000 patients 95% of the time. A confidence interval of 95% is standard industry practice in many surveys. The higher this number, the more accurate your results.

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Step 3: Survey Design

Next, you can begin creating the survey format and decide on how to collect responses. Depending on your business goals and the purpose of the survey, you may choose to collect survey responses online, in person, or on the phone.

• Online: these are one of the most popular options for small businesses because they’re inexpensive for the business and convenient for clients to participate. However, participants may not understand the questions properly and often provide poor responses to open-ended questions.
• Person: these surveys are often used for larger businesses, as they can be time consuming and expensive to conduct. However, the participants receive clear instructions, provide thorough responses, and often results in the most accurate data.
• Phone: this combines the benefits of asking questions in person, but at a lower cost. Participants provide thorough responses and the results are accurate, but it may not be convenient for people to participate, so the response rate is lower than online.

For many small businesses, the online survey format is the most popular. It provides the best combination of value for the business and convenience for the participants. You can increase participation by offering an incentive, such as a discount to your services, or a gift card.

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Step 4: Collect Responses

Now that your survey is designed and you’ve identified your sample, it’s time to invite them to participate in your survey.

There are many different ways of collecting responses, including Microsoft Excel and Word, Google Forms, social media tools and many online survey products. Decide on which platform to use based on your survey goals.

Microsoft Office products, such as Excel and Word, are inexpensive options to create simple forms for surveys. Unless you’re experienced with creating forms on these products, you might find it easier to use an online platform, such as Google Forms.

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Step 5: Analyze Results

After collecting all of the responses that you need in your sample size, you’re ready to analyze your results. This is often done by collecting your data inside of a spreadsheet, which allows you to segment your responses based on categories.

For example, you may want to learn how your clients found your practice. You can segment your participants by the different responses so that you can see what percentage of your clients found you via client referral, Google, social media, etc.

You can also segment your participants into different categories, based on their demographic variables. For example, you may want to see what services your male patients want and compare that to the services that your female patients want. By learning this information, you can adjust your products and services to better meet your clients’ needs.

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Step 6: Thank Your Clients

Once your survey is complete, you can send an email to your clients to thank them for participating in the survey. Most of your clients that participated want to feel heard and acknowledged. They want to know that their feedback is going to result in a better client experience.

When sending an email to your clients, consider this format:

• Thank you for your time in participating in our survey
• Here’s a brief summary of our results (Net Promoter Score, etc.)
• We appreciate that our clients like the following: [list positive feedback]
• We appreciate that our clients would like to see us improve in: [list negative feedback]
• Here’s what we’re doing to improve your patient experience
• Thank you again for participating

Your patients want to know that their feedback is being used to improve your practice. They may also be curious about the overall results of your survey.

By taking the time to thank them, you are strengthening your relationship and increasing the likelihood that they’ll participate in your next survey.

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Step 7: Take Action

Now that you’ve collected and analyzed your results, what changes are you going to make to your practice?

If your clients provided you with some negative feedback, this is valuable information. You can use this information to make constructive changes to your business to increase your patient retention. Otherwise, your patients will leave to another provider.

One of our clients operates a health clinic downtown and made the assumption that most of their patients are walking to their clinic from work. After conducting a patient survey, they were surprised to learn that many of their patients don’t work downtown and have to find parking. This was a big obstacle for many people, so they stopped coming. By simply offering free parking, their appointment calendar started to fill up again!

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